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What are some of your favourite memories of owning or playing games on the Atari ST from back in the 80s and 90s? This video represents a small glimpse into my own personal memories, I didn’t own the ST, but as with the Commodore Amiga, I had access to its many great games. The list is difficult to put together as there are so many great games on the Atari ST.

 

No sooner had I finished the video, my thoughts drifted to Gauntlet 2, Dungeon Master, and many many more. But then I decided, hold on a second, which games do I come back to over the years, which games do I come back to and think sod-it.

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Nice video... when I think of my old early ST days, It's always Time Bandit and doodling in DEGAS. Special days indeed.

 

 

Edited by Zeptari1
added video link
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Posted (edited)

Too many life threatening days have passed since the 1986-87 period I had my 520STM but I do remember Neochrome demo the mail order company gave me was so addictive. I didn't really buy an ST for games, it was more as an all round home computer like the Acorn BBC or Amstrad CPC 8bit micros. Loved the styling, the packaging, the quality feel and sound of the STM and SF354 drive (Amiga 1000 drive was noisier!). A 16bit machine with nice graphics and a built in GUI was kind of amazing for me.

 

I drew pictures, with and without colour cycling, I did sprites (Gradius/Salamander I remember doing) and then I got a new version of the demo which had animation. What I remember is I had an A3 sized piece of Formica or vinyl covered chipboard and I used my Atari mouse with that like a graphics tablet.

 

The first commercial game I got was Deep Space by Psygnosis (35 bucks!) and it was utterly shit, but there were some games I really liked, Backlash was another early one I bought. Also remember getting Gauntlet 1 and The Pawn for my ST at a computer show and reading the novella on the train home. Road Runner was a lot of fun. 

 

Also remember I hacked the palette for Elite on the ST from a much less kindergarten one to blue/grey scales and played that way. Loved the big bold characters and lush backgrounds of ST International Karate, especially the Spanish town houses (which I saved to disk using some utility that changed printscreen TOS function to trigger a disk dump of active screen memory??). Had to take IK back to Laskys for a replacement as first disk had a read error. The 520STM felt cutting edge and looked it too, was a great home computer and Atari were doing great things with pricing (I paid about 425-450 bucks for 520STM and SF354 mid Summer 1986).

 

Played Time Bandit a lot too I think, seem to remember getting some Microdeal games on sale direct from Microdeal and this was my fav as I LOVE Gauntlet in the arcades. I did a video of the ST and Amiga version side by side as the 8 way scrolling is great on the ST.

 

 

Edited by oky2000
time bandit!
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Posted (edited)

I jumped directly from the Atari 8-Bit to DOS PC's in 1990.  It wasn't until I had some money to spend in 1994 that I delved into the Atari 16-Bit line with the 1040 STe.  Tricked out with 4MB RAM, an ICD Link II, a Syquest 44 external SCSI drive, an NEC MultiSync 3D monitor, and a Canon BJC 200 printer, the machine truly thrilled me.  Obsession Pinball, Xenon 2, Dynabuster, and Ishar were my go-to games.  SpeedoGDOS, AtariWorks, and Kandinsky gave the system all the "serious" chops I needed it to have.  Later, an NEC MultiSpin external CDROM kept the system feeling modern and useful long past its commercial viability.  The Internet not withstanding, my needs as a desktop user have not become much more sophisticated than what that machine made possible.

Edited by pixelmischief

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Nice video and thank you, there was a game I used to play a lot, but couldn't remember the name

and it's one of the games you show "Blood Money", there's others I've not heard of but look good

will be giving them a try.

 

thanks again

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I had a 520STM about the same time our school received the 80186 PC based Research Machines Nimbus DOS/Windows 2(?) computers in 1986 and I remember laughing at how terrible MS Paint was compared to Neochrome I spent months using already. I was even allowed to take home one of these £2500 Nimbus computers in the summer of 1987 on school break for project work. I might even still have a picture of it on my desk.

 

Nice keyboard, everything else was inferior to my ST at home that cost 80% less and yet my Computer Science teacher would not discuss this :)  I think THIS 1986-88 experience of PCs meant I would never consider one for over half a decade.

 

I also wish I had purchased Computer Concepts Fast ST BASIC cartridge and written my Video Rental Store suite of programs for my A-level project on an ST with a GUI than some crap DOS based rubbish for MS DOS. I think Fast ST BASIC was great, didn't get one until this century...might do a video on it with my 260ST one day...they go well together.

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3 hours ago, oky2000 said:

terrible MS Paint was compared to Neochrome I spent months using already

Neochrome was great!   I liked how it always zoomed in on the section you were working on to let you easily make precise pixel placement.  I wish more paint programs had that without forcing you to constantly zoom in and out.

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I stretched my ST days as long as I could.  Starting with a 1040 and Degas Elite, Time Bandit, Star Glider, Artic Fox, AR:City

 

I got into more business use during college - WP ST, Timeworks package, LDW, Pagestream, Alice Pascal. NeoDesk

 

I got Magic Mac cart then Spectre 128 along with an ATSpeed and AdSpeed for my Mega 2.  I had first a 20mb HD then an ICDFast enclosure with a 60MB drive.

 

I put alot of miles on my ST, but ultimately couldnt connect to my work Mainframe an either VT-52 or VT-100 so got a 486 with ProComm plus and that was it :)

 

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On 6/30/2021 at 3:18 PM, zzip said:

Neochrome was great!   I liked how it always zoomed in on the section you were working on to let you easily make precise pixel placement.  I wish more paint programs had that without forcing you to constantly zoom in and out.

Yeah that was awesome I agree, IIRC you could go full screen with press of a key. I also liked how you could see so many colours of the palette instantly which helped keep the flow of creativity. 

 

I suppose there will always be my nostalgia to add to memories as Neochrome was the first ever pixel art software I used, Designer's Pencil by Activision doesn't count as the C64 doesn't have proper 16 colour anywhere in any combination screen mode and I never had an Amstrad CPC (which does indeed have that proper 16 colour anywhere type screen mode hence the lethargic scrolling in games due to a 16kb video DRAM memory size for 160x200 rez graphics).

 

What I do remember was my ST was a proper computer, bit of pixel art, bit of animation, bit of non gaming related coding, bit of sampling (early beige Microdeal sampler was the one with built in single DAC for sample playback?) but with the C64 there was always some problem with creativity, RAM size for samplers, weird restrictions even in the most flexible screen mode, speed of CPU and disk access for non game related coding I did (like a set of programs you might sell to a video rental store owner etc). I loved the C64 from 1983 after my VCS as something to play games on BUT by 1986 I was starting to get interested in other things to do with computers and the cost of a disk drive and mouse for the C64 was too expensive to justify compared to 450 or 425 quid my 520STM and SF354 from Compumart(blue/white geometric lines in advert?) cost me around June/July 1986. 

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Yeah that was awesome I agree, IIRC you could go full screen with press of a key. I also liked how you could see so many colours of the palette instantly which helped keep the flow of creativity. 
 
I suppose there will always be my nostalgia to add to memories as Neochrome was the first ever pixel art software I used, Designer's Pencil by Activision doesn't count as the C64 doesn't have proper 16 colour anywhere in any combination screen mode and I never had an Amstrad CPC (which does indeed have that proper 16 colour anywhere type screen mode hence the lethargic scrolling in games due to a 16kb video DRAM memory size for 160x200 rez graphics).
 
What I do remember was my ST was a proper computer, bit of pixel art, bit of animation, bit of non gaming related coding, bit of sampling (early beige Microdeal sampler was the one with built in single DAC for sample playback?) but with the C64 there was always some problem with creativity, RAM size for samplers, weird restrictions even in the most flexible screen mode, speed of CPU and disk access for non game related coding I did (like a set of programs you might sell to a video rental store owner etc). I loved the C64 from 1983 after my VCS as something to play games on BUT by 1986 I was starting to get interested in other things to do with computers and the cost of a disk drive and mouse for the C64 was too expensive to justify compared to 450 or 425 quid my 520STM and SF354 from Compumart(blue/white geometric lines in advert?) cost me around June/July 1986. 

On the subject of the CPC, the heavy 16k screen you mentioned did come with lots of benefits, but the 16k heavy screen applied to all modes, not just 16 colour mode 0. Although there’s plenty of games such as Savage, Trantor and X-Out that show fast smooth scroll can be achieved, especially with new games. See here Amstrad CPC Top 40 New Games - CPC games you can't afford to be without



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On 6/30/2021 at 5:26 PM, Goochman said:

I stretched my ST days as long as I could.  Starting with a 1040 and Degas Elite, Time Bandit, Star Glider, Artic Fox, AR:City

 

I got into more business use during college - WP ST, Timeworks package, LDW, Pagestream, Alice Pascal. NeoDesk

 

I got Magic Mac cart then Spectre 128 along with an ATSpeed and AdSpeed for my Mega 2.  I had first a 20mb HD then an ICDFast enclosure with a 60MB drive.

 

I put alot of miles on my ST, but ultimately couldnt connect to my work Mainframe an either VT-52 or VT-100 so got a 486 with ProComm plus and that was it :)

 

I found the lack of effort going into later ST games was the problem so eventually it just stayed in the box. It was as if software houses immediately blamed lack of blitter or DACs was an excuse (like the AWFUL tunes in Ocean's Batman the movie but that's not the YMs fault as other musicians managed to show it's more capable than simple bleeps and bloops of a Pong console!) 

 

This also happened to the Amiga (only 1 Amiga racing game is better than Lotus games on the ST lol). Atomic Robokid is the ONLY Activision Amiga arcade conversion that you should NOT reformat the game disk, they were really that bad.

 

By 1991 I was so fed up with the god awful quality (compared to host hardware ability of ST and Amiga) I just dived into the Megadrive...sure it had crap music in games BUT they were coded properly and used all of the hardware's abilities so I didn't mind spending the extra 20 quid on Gauntlet 4 compared to the HORRIBLE Gauntlet 2 on Amiga (which is not much better than the NES version lol).  

 

But at the start it did feel really futuristic to have a 68000 based home computer with a proper screen mode....and using the ST with a mono-monitor was more fun than using a 512k Mac which cost four times more at least.

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7 minutes ago, ClassicReplay said:


On the subject of the CPC, the heavy 16k screen you mentioned did come with lots of benefits, but the 16k heavy screen applied to all modes, not just 16 colour mode 0. Although there’s plenty of games such as Savage, Trantor and X-Out that show fast smooth scroll can be achieved, especially with new games. 

I am a regular on Xyphoe's channel ;) One of my best friends had a CPC from 1984 to 1989 so it was like I too owned one (ditto with Atari 800 and 800XL gaming in the early to late 80s via another really good friend)

 

The number of times I have seen losers complain about the C64 8kb hi-res or multicolor bitmap mode is unbelievable, and on the CPC the sloppy coders out in force (there was NEVER enough talent to go round in the 8 and 16bit home computer scene!) with their postage stamp sized screens. I could probably write the best ever 2.5D racing game for a C64 in a couple of weeks of pouring over manuals and learning 6502 a bit better. Hell I could even double the framerate of Amstrad CPC Chase HQ by doing a few changes to how that is displayed but I am not a coder nor have that sort of memory myself now lol.

 

The C64 games had a recurring problem, god awful 1kb "4 colour only screen' mulicolor character mode, with the added advantage of the only colour that can be changed on screen at all has to be one of the first 8 colours of the palette (crappy Acorn Electron CMYRGBK+White rubbish) so you get NES quality sprites over really shit looking coloured chunky backgrounds.  The CPC recurring problem was not enough talent to do the mode 0 graphics for CPC release exclusively (160x200x16 colours/27) graphics OR coding talent to make the Z80 manipulate the 16kb screen modes. The Z80 in the CPC is no faster than the 6502 in Atari or Plus/4 computers which had hardware scrolling functions to save you doing any kind of coding donkey work screen RAM 7/8 frames.

 

The reality is, very few home computer games did justice to the host computer they were running on. Postage stamp sized screens OR rubbish 4 colours max 320x200 CPC port jobs. Rubbish BBC Micro coloured backgrounds on C64 games etc. Consoles suffered this problem less, Japanese had much better standards than scum like Domark/Ocean/US Gold/Activision etc 

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On 6/30/2021 at 5:26 PM, Goochman said:

I stretched my ST days as long as I could.  Starting with a 1040 and Degas Elite, Time Bandit, Star Glider, Artic Fox, AR:City

 

I got into more business use during college - WP ST, Timeworks package, LDW, Pagestream, Alice Pascal. NeoDesk

 

I got Magic Mac cart then Spectre 128 along with an ATSpeed and AdSpeed for my Mega 2.  I had first a 20mb HD then an ICDFast enclosure with a 60MB drive.

 

I put alot of miles on my ST, but ultimately couldnt connect to my work Mainframe an either VT-52 or VT-100 so got a 486 with ProComm plus and that was it :)

My experience was similar, I loved my ST, but decided to try being an independent programmer for small business applications so buying a PC was inevitable, for

me it was like buying a moped to replace my car as an upgrade, the ST was just so good at so many things.  

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On 7/4/2021 at 1:41 PM, TGB1718 said:

My experience was similar, I loved my ST, but decided to try being an independent programmer for small business applications so buying a PC was inevitable, for

me it was like buying a moped to replace my car as an upgrade, the ST was just so good at so many things.  

Not directly related to the ST years as such but in 1992 when I turned on my first ever purchased PC (486SX25 4mb) for university course work I found the DOS prompt INFERIOR to the VIC-20 word processor like by comparison screen editor in CBM BASIC and a bit jarring.

 

I really wish I had done my A-level programming project (a complete suite of programs for a video rental store) on my ST with FAST ST BASIC but the cartridge was quite expensive for me as a teenager who wasn't working and Xmas was just too far away to get it gifted to me. Just think how nice a GEM based system would have looked to potential store owners compared to the text based rubbish that cost a fortune for the 'cheap' Amstrad 1512 8086 PC of the mid 80s that was the only DOS rival on price to Amiga or ST at the time. 

 

In 2010 I worked for some chicken shit little company selling CRM software written in Visual BASIC and as soon as I saw these 1000-5000 quid packages I instantly in my head worked out how you would do them in something like FAST ST BASIC + GEM dialogs 1/4 of a century earlier...and they would have been as fast, looked better and crashed less often :)

 

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30 minutes ago, oky2000 said:

In 2010 I worked for some chicken shit little company selling CRM software written in Visual BASIC and as soon as I saw these 1000-5000 quid packages I instantly in my head worked out how you would do them in something like FAST ST BASIC + GEM dialogs 1/4 of a century earlier...and they would have been as fast, looked better and crashed less often :)

That's how I felt, I was writing in 'C' on the PC (skills I learned on the ST) using DOS Text Based Windows and Btrieve

database applications, would have made it so easy to do it in GEM and as you say would have looked far nicer.

The memory model on the PC was archaic having to install memory managers to get above 840K (I think, was a long time ago)

and in your 'C' code having to declare 'near' or 'far' to access extended memory, that threw me for a while, on the ST, you

just wrote relocatable code and it worked :)  

 

btw. those 'C' programming skills I learnt on my ST set me on a career as a Programmer/Analyst for the next 25+ years

another reason to just love Atari.

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21 hours ago, TGB1718 said:

The memory model on the PC was archaic having to install memory managers to get above 840K (I think, was a long time ago)

and in your 'C' code having to declare 'near' or 'far' to access extended memory, that threw me for a while, on the ST, you

just wrote relocatable code and it worked :)  

I remember having to use "near" and "far" when learning x86 assembly in college.  That was the reason my programs usually failed,  I 'neared' when I should have 'farred'.   When I started doing C on PC, I made sure I was using the newer 386+ 32-bit flat memory model.  I wanted nothing to do with the segmented memory

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On 7/5/2021 at 5:08 PM, TGB1718 said:

That's how I felt, I was writing in 'C' on the PC (skills I learned on the ST) using DOS Text Based Windows and Btrieve

database applications, would have made it so easy to do it in GEM and as you say would have looked far nicer.

The memory model on the PC was archaic having to install memory managers to get above 840K (I think, was a long time ago)

and in your 'C' code having to declare 'near' or 'far' to access extended memory, that threw me for a while, on the ST, you

just wrote relocatable code and it worked :)  

 

btw. those 'C' programming skills I learnt on my ST set me on a career as a Programmer/Analyst for the next 25+ years

another reason to just love Atari.

I had a single C coding assignment for my University course....I did the algorithms in a day....half hour before deadline I converted it into C and typed it into the compiler just by using a comparison chart of how you do something in structured BASIC or C code (about half a page of A4). lol never used it again, but back then I could have programmed in anything probably. Nowadays I can't understand my own Blitz BASIC programs listings!!

 

There were two types of extended memory for PC DOS machines I think, it's been a few decades, think one was called EMS and one was called XMS or something. Totally incompatible memory managers. I also think there was something called 'high memory' which was 641kb to 1024kb memory area. I remember you could move some Config.SYS drivers to 'LOAD HIGH' or something and they would be shoved above the 640kb memory limit.

 

Anybody in the early to mid 90s who said PC gaming was the future obviously got daddy to edit their Config.sys and Autoexc.bat files to play the best games. I never got World Rally Fever to bloody work on my PC and I had an IQ of 135-137 (had two IQ tests in my life). Super Stardust took over half an hour to get sound AND CD access working. What a joke of a machine the PC was before Win XP. Even at work people had to constantly reboot Win98 machines daily otherwise you ran out of 'GDI resource' and couldn't do frivolous tasks like print large payroll documents or use the company intranet site with a web browser unless it looked like a 1984 text based bulletin board. I laugh when people say Windows was better than Amiga/ST/Archimedes OS...laugh so hard....laugh as much as when I went round my friend's house to play Commando on the Amstrad CPC and that tune came 'blaring' out of the internal 10 cents speaker inside the computer case :) 

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10 hours ago, oky2000 said:

Even at work people had to constantly reboot Win98 machines daily otherwise you ran out of 'GDI resource'

I could never understand why large businesses went for Windows, especially for servers, Windows 2000 ☠️ was the kiss of

death to any project, we had a mix of Win2000 and a load of AIX (Unix) servers, any problems, I guarantee you it

would be a Win2000 server that had crashed (again...) , the Unix machines did all the hard work and just worked.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, TGB1718 said:

I could never understand why large businesses went for Windows, especially for servers, Windows 2000 ☠️ was the kiss of

death to any project

I think that Bill Gates charisma was essential :D :D 

 

 

 

Edited by calimero

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13 hours ago, oky2000 said:

What a joke of a machine the PC was before Win XP.

Lol...what a load of BS that anti-PC rant was. It always amuses me that even grown up men can't let go of their tribal mindset, and still feel the need to dump on other machines even 30+ years later :)

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43 minutes ago, youxia said:

Lol...what a load of BS that anti-PC rant was. It always amuses me that even grown up men can't let go of their tribal mindset, and still feel the need to dump on other machines even 30+ years later

Not a rant, just an opinion based on personal experiences which I believe is informative, some of us dealt with many different

systems back then, some good, some bad and the PC was not one of the good ones but somehow managed to survive to what

it is today.

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15 hours ago, oky2000 said:

I had a single C coding assignment for my University course....I did the algorithms in a day....half hour before deadline I converted it into C and typed it into the compiler just by using a comparison chart of how you do something in structured BASIC or C code (about half a page of A4). lol never used it again, but back then I could have programmed in anything probably. Nowadays I can't understand my own Blitz BASIC programs listings!!

I have trouble reading my own BASIC code,  but it's not because I forgot the language,  it's because I wrote too few comments,  used highly abbreviated variable names that I forgot the meaning of (what does $MRPD1="1" do again?)  and BASIC often forces a highly dense programming style without sufficient white-space or indentation, so it's just a hard language to read even when written well.    Some newer BASICs were better about this.

 

15 hours ago, oky2000 said:

There were two types of extended memory for PC DOS machines I think, it's been a few decades, think one was called EMS and one was called XMS or something. Totally incompatible memory managers. I also think there was something called 'high memory' which was 641kb to 1024kb memory area. I remember you could move some Config.SYS drivers to 'LOAD HIGH' or something and they would be shoved above the 640kb memory limit.

 

Anybody in the early to mid 90s who said PC gaming was the future obviously got daddy to edit their Config.sys and Autoexc.bat files to play the best games. I never got World Rally Fever to bloody work on my PC and I had an IQ of 135-137 (had two IQ tests in my life). Super Stardust took over half an hour to get sound AND CD access working. What a joke of a machine the PC was before Win XP. Even at work people had to constantly reboot Win98 machines daily otherwise you ran out of 'GDI resource' and couldn't do frivolous tasks like print large payroll documents or use the company intranet site with a web browser unless it looked like a 1984 text based bulletin board. I laugh when people say Windows was better than Amiga/ST/Archimedes OS...laugh so hard....laugh as much as when I went round my friend's house to play Commando on the Amstrad CPC and that tune came 'blaring' out of the internal 10 cents speaker inside the computer case

Yeah "Load High" or "LH" worked.   I used to have different boot floppies with different config/autoexec.bat that I needed to get different games working.   If I added the TSRs for all my devices at once, I'd inevitably run out of lower memory.   But then someone told me about "Memmaker".   It's a utility that ships with DOS (6.x+ I think) that will read in your autoexec and config.sys, and figure out the best memory location to load all your TSRs and rewrite those files accordingly.  After using memmaker, I could have all my TSRs loaded and still have enough free memory for all my games to work.

 

The PC architecture and OS at the time was certainly much worse than the ST.   But what the PC did have going for it was a better selection of high-quality applications-  there were more companies and coders developing for the platform.

 

5 hours ago, TGB1718 said:

I could never understand why large businesses went for Windows, especially for servers, Windows 2000 ☠️ was the kiss of

death to any project, we had a mix of Win2000 and a load of AIX (Unix) servers, any problems, I guarantee you it

would be a Win2000 server that had crashed (again...) , the Unix machines did all the hard work and just worked.

Often because they had extensive contracts with Microsoft and a MS administrative staff and didn't want to pay for administrators for other systems.   90's-era Windows shops were a trip!  I worked in some and and saw some crazy applications people put together that were more like Rube-Goldberg machines because Windows and the Apps on Windows at the time were not designed for the kind of automation people wanted to use them for.

 

I still have write and maintain some automation tasks for Windows, and I have to say that it's gotten a lot better, but it's still kind of clunky compared to a Unix-type system.

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26 minutes ago, zzip said:

I still have write and maintain some automation tasks for Windows, and I have to say that it's gotten a lot better, but it's still kind of clunky compared to a Unix-type system.

Although certified on some Windows systems SQL Server etc.(out of date now) , I always loved the power of Unix and

what you could do with it's shell scripting tools, even fairly recently I needed to do a massive search/replace in hundreds

of files, under windows it was becoming a nightmare and looked like it would take days to complete,

so I loaded up Cygwin64 wrote the shell scrips and job done in about 1/2 hour.

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